Hawaii Updates: 3 More Hale Nani Residents Test Positive; City Boosts Business Aid Fund by $25M

Jun 17, 2020

Updated: 6/17/2020, 12:05 p.m.

The state’s largest skilled nursing facility said today that three more residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Makiki said on its website that a total of four residents and one staff member are now confirmed to have the virus.

Hale Nani recorded the state’s first positive case involving a nursing home resident on Monday. That patient remains at the hospital.

An additional three residents tested positive. Those residents live in the same unit as the first positive resident, which is also where the positive staff member worked.

The three COVID-19 positive residents are being isolated at Hale Nani.

--HPR's Derrick Malama

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 5 new cases of COVID-19 today, four on Oahu and one on Hawaii Island. All are adults.

The increase follows Tuesday's 4 cases; Mondayʻs 8 cases; Sunday's 5 new cases, Saturday's 17 cases and Friday's 15 infections.

After adjusting the numbers based on updated information, the state now reports 744 total cases of COVID-19. The number of deaths remains at 17.

The case count for Oahu is at 508, Maui County at 120, Hawaii County at 83 and Kauai County at 21. Twelve people have been diagnosed out of state. Some 639 people have been released from isolation.

City pours additional $25M into business relief fun

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is adding another $25 million into the city’s relief fund to help small companies recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The money comes from the $480 million in federal CARES Act funds received by the city.

Caldwell first unveiled the program last month, allowing qualified businesses to receive up to $10,000 each.

The city has issued nearly 2,700 grants so far.

Ed Hawkins, executive director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, said there are changes being made to the program, including to which companies can qualify.

"We’re looking at expanding it. As you know, up to now it was less than 30 or fewer employees, and less than $1 million in gross annual revenue. We’re gonna bump that up to 50 or fewer employees, and less than $2 million," Hawkins said.

"The other thing that we looked at, although we took several farmers on a case-by-case basis, we really want to reach out to the farmers. We’ve had a couple of initiatives in the city to try to get the fruits and vegetables to market, but this is another way to help these farmers."

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: Quarantine Lifts On Interisland Travel; 4 New Cases; About 1,700 Arrivals

Hawkins said the city will also allow community groups and ethnic chambers of commerce to apply for assistance as well.

The relief fund is administered by local credit unions. The city plans to have more information posted online Wednesday afternoon at oneoahu.org

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Kona hospital, Straub receive federal relief aid

Kona Community Hospital on Hawaii Island and Straub Medical Center received together about $11.9 million in federal funding for health care services for vulnerable and low-income people during the pandemic.

The two serve as "safety net" hospitals by providing care to those without insurance or unable to pay for services.

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz said in a news release that the new funding is part of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund. Hospitals serving a high number of Medicaid patients or that provide large amounts of uncompensated care are eligible for allocations from the fund.

Hawaiian monk seals harassed in three incidents

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a reminder that Hawaiian monk seals resting on beaches should not be disturbed. Violators are subject to state and federal fines and jail time.

The state said in a news release that recent incidents, including two seen in social media posts, included:

• A lifted truck driving on the beach near Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline in East Oahu appeared to disturb a seal nearby.

• At a Nanakuli beach, a man is seen handling a resting seal, which moves quickly away.

• Also in Nanakuli, a tipster said loose dogs came within a few feet of a resting seal.

“With the reopening of beaches recently, it is critically important that everyone gives resting seals wide-berth," said DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla. "This is both for the safety of people and seals. They are powerful animals and have been known to strike back at people who approach them too closely or harass them."

Those with information on these incidents or other violations can call 643-DLNR (3567), report them via the free DLNRTip app or call the NOAA hotline at 888-256-9840.

Lanai food distribution drive-through scheduled today

Maui County plans to pass out bags of produce to families impacted by COVID-19 today from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the county parking lot between the Lanai county gym and school cafeteria.

The food bags will be distributed to motorists on a first-come, first-served basis. The bags will be placed in a vehicle's trunk or rear cargo area.

No walkups are permitted and recipients must wear face masks.

Hawaii State Public Library System offers computer use with reservations

The state libraries are taking reservations for use of its public computers as part of a phased reopening of library services.

All library branches are providing access to the computers with the exception of the Hawaii State Library, Liliha, and McCully-Moiliili locations.

Patrons can use the computers for 60-minute sessions by making reservations on the library ssystem website or by calling the library branch they wish to visit. No more than two sessions per day are allowed.

Walk-ups without appointments are permitted on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Those entering the libraries must follow health protocols, including wearing a face covering over their nose and mouth. The equipment and high-touch areas will be cleaned after each computer session.

Library takeout services are still available at all locations, except for the Liliha and McCully-Moiliili branches.

More information is available on the library system's website.

State: Day one of interisland travel quarantine lifting goes 'smoothly'

The first day of the end of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for Hawaii interisland travelers went smoothly, according to the state Joint Information Center yesterday.

Departing passengers are having their temperatures taken and will not be allowed to board if they exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The state said some individuals will receive additional assessment.

Those with symptoms other than a fever will be offered a test for COVID-19. The sample does not mean the people cannot travel, but if the results turn out positive, the state Department of Health will contact the person using the new interisland health and travel form that must be filled out before boarding.

The state is still planning for eventual lifting of the mandatory quarantine for mainland and international travelers. Gov. David Ige said Monday that August is a more realistic timeline for ending the quarantine for out-of-state travelers but it could be as early as July. 

Visitor arrivals rise again on Tuesday

A total of 1,671 passengers arrived in the islands on Tuesday. Among them were 445 visitors and 556 returning residents. The arrivials are subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine that remains in effect.

Also in the total were 190 crew members, 165 military, 80 exempted from quarantine, 121 relocating to the state, and 114 travelers in transit.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.